Can Celiac Disease Develop in Aging Adults?

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In recent years, more attention has been given to the gastrointestinal disorder known as celiac disease. Many falsely believe the affliction is only found in children and young adults. However, studies indicate the number of celiac disease cases among the elderly has been growing.

About Celiac Disease

The autoimmune disorder known as celiac disease involves the body’s inability to digest a protein called gluten, which is a common component of barley, rye, and wheat. When an individual with celiac disease consumes a glutenous food, he or she experiences abdominal cramping from gastrointestinal bloating, which is often accompanied by diarrhea. Weight loss occurs secondary to the nutritional deficit. Older people with celiac disease may develop cognitive impairment and osteoporosis. If undiagnosed, the small intestine could become damaged due to the chronic inflammation and irritation. Although there’s no cure for the disorder, seniors with celiac disease can live healthy lives by making dietary changes. 

In Pembroke Pines, elderly home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy.

Celiac Disease Research

According to researchers from the University of Maryland, the number of recorded celiac disease cases has doubled since 1974 and continues to rise. The Center for Celiac Research and Treatment found that in 2003, one out of every 133 people was diagnosed with the disorder. They also discovered the number of cases increased with individuals’ ages. Although some people with celiac disease have a genetic marker that may predispose them to developing the disorder, others afflicted with the disease aren’t genetically susceptible. This information led the scientists to believe that environmental factors are at play. Determining how the environment contributes to the development of celiac disease may provide insight into how other autoimmune disorders emerge.

Why Older Adults Develop Celiac Disease

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that seniors may eat gluten-containing foods for decades without experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms. The researchers theorize that gut bacteria changes for some reason, making seniors suddenly react to gluten. The scientists believe when seniors take antibiotics for infections, the medications may contribute to the bacterial changes. Gut flora might also be impacted when an older adult endures various types of stress, such as illness, surgery, or the loss of a loved one. The natural aging process is another consideration. 

Digestive issues can be especially problematic for aging adults. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Pembroke Pines seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Misdiagnosis

Because a variety of factors—from medications to ulcer-causing bacteria—can cause gastric symptoms, when older adults experience gastrointestinal symptoms related to celiac disease, physicians may misdiagnose the issue, believing the symptoms have another cause. Thus, the disorder continues to progress until the symptoms become severe enough to warrant further investigation. Checking the blood for antibodies remains the definitive means of determining a senior’s symptoms are caused by celiac disease. When seniors are diagnosed with the condition, they must adapt their diets accordingly. Reading food labels clues older adults into which foods contain the grains they need to avoid. There are also alternative baking products made from gluten-free grains and legumes.

Professional caregivers with training in nutrition and healthy habits can be a wonderful source of information and support for seniors who have celiac disease or are trying to prevent it. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care services. Pembroke Pines families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. Call Home Care Assistance today at (954) 374-8273 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.